I have been trying these two language-learning apps every day for a month now. You may recall that I wrote about them three weeks ago, when I continued to review my rusty German, since I used to be pretty good… Read More ›
Teaching & Learning
Democracy? How could geometry tell us anything about democracy? To find out, read Shape, by Jordan Ellenberg!
Even if you don’t usually read applied math books, you need to read Shape, by Jordan Ellenberg. The subtitle tells you more than the title: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy, and Everything Else. Yes, I know, it… Read More ›
When I teach cryptography, my students learn that the Caesar Cipher wasn’t actually invented by Julius Caesar, that the Playfair Cipher wasn’t created by Lyon Playfair, that the Vigenère Cipher is wrongly attributed to Blaise de Vigenère, and so forth…. Read More ›
What’s wrong with America’s math curriculum? I’ve written endlessly on this subject, but for now I want to focus on the claims of Steven Levitt and others in a new version of an earlier Freakonomics episode. Levitt et al. are… Read More ›
Oh no! The International Astronomical Union has been lying to us all these years! What is this world coming to?
“These explanations are entirely bogus. They’re made up.” That’s what the Kiwi Hellenist, Peter Gainsford, says about the International Astronomical Union’s incorrect explanations for the names of the planets. But how could the explanations be entirely bogus? Scientists don’t just… Read More ›
Schools aren’t built around confusion. We reward students for speed and accuracy (the way we average grades and set rigid deadlines). Our standardized tests place a high value in speed and accuracy rather than nuance and confusion. We value teachers… Read More ›
Of course they did, you reply. But not so fast! There has, of course, been a lot of interest lately in tracing one’s DNA to find out one’s individual ancestry. But I haven’t seen much about the results of doing… Read More ›
Fake news! (Is it clickbait? Or have archaeologists discovered the Trojan Horse? Judge for yourself!)
Did you believe in Santa Claus when you were a kid? How about the Bible? God? The Norse gods? Satan? Zeus? Evolution? Grimm’s fairy tales? The quadratic formula? The Trojan War? Everything your parents told you? Everything your teachers told… Read More ›
Not high-school seniors. Not college seniors. Seniors as in senior citizens—old people—like me. We all know (don’t we?) that solving crossword puzzles and playing games like Scrabble can supposedly help stave off Alzheimer’s by keeping the left side of the… Read More ›